American artist Jacqueline Strauss repurposes scrap fabric and found materials into quirky dolls that resemble a child’s drawing. Sometimes her dolls would resemble a child’s renderings of animals like cows, sloths and dogs or even those of mythical creatures like mermaids. Other times they would simply be people who display and affirm certain emotions such as sadness, happiness and anger. Strauss particularly uses these pieces to help heal her inner child, to affirm her emotions for a healthier head space, while at the same time giving fabric waste a longer life. This makes her work relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production and Good Health And Well-Being.

String of Tears by Jacqueline Strauss. Image courtesy of @jezaculear/Instagram.

People’s inner children are connections that individuals have with their childhood selves and memories. The concept is especially useful for treating childhood psychological wounds as it involves allowing individuals to visualize and interact with their childhood selves. By creating dolls that resemble children’s drawings, it can be inferred that Strauss herself is channelling her inner child, allowing her to create to her heart’s content and provide her adult self with some much-needed emotional release.

Strauss uses her dolls to convey a number of things. In pieces like String of Tears, Feeling teary and Heart wings, Strauss has created dolls that are recognizably human with single easy to identify emotions. These dolls are either crying their hearts out or smiling wide and sharing their love with the world. Both creating and observing these dolls can help people understand and identify their emotions better. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) even has found that people who can identify their emotions are able to feel their emotions without getting caught up in them. This allows them to have better emotional regulation and to live a life where mood swings do not affect their actions and decisions.

Heart wings by Jacqueline Strauss. Image courtesy of @jezaculear/Instagram.

In other pieces, such as Which way do I go?, Strauss uses her dolls as a way to convey her inner turmoil. These dolls do not look human but appear more as amorphous blobs or animals that symbolize her turmoil. The piece Which way do I go?, for example, appears to be two pigs who are joined at the hips, each facing a different direction they want to go. Again, these dolls become a way for both Strauss and her audiences to get in touch with their innermost thoughts. They help them to not get caught up in them so that they can lead full lives with their emotional and mental health well cared for.

Which way do I go? by Jacqueline Strauss. Image courtesy of @jezaculear/Instagram.

Sometimes, however, Strauss’ pieces seem to convey nothing but pure childhood joy. These are pieces such as Mermama which takes the form of a cheeky mermaid sprawled on a bed of rocks. A content smile spreads across her face as she basks in the sun, reminiscent of hot summer afternoons spent by the pool.

Mermama by Jacqueline Strauss. Image courtesy of @jezaculear/Instagram.

Jacqueliene Strauss’ whimsical and quirky dolls, crafted from repurposed and up-cycled materials, are not just playful creations, they are tools to reconnect with the inner child in order to allow them to express themselves and heal emotionally. From streams of tears to bursts of joy, Strauss' dolls give viewers a way to look at their emotional landscapes. They help them foster a sense of self-awareness and also help them regulate their emotions. At the end of the day, she invites her audiences to rediscover the power of play and creativity to nurture their mental health.

Find out more about Jacqueline Strauss’ dolls and their other pieces by checking their Instagram on @jezaculear.

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